Sunday, August 14, 2011
30 DAYS TO A CHAMPIONSHIP: SAYING GOODBYE
JIM BOONE: It’s amazing that one of the best times for coaches to think is while they are driving. Certainly today, as I drive from east Tennessee to my home state of West Virginia, to take over as head coach of the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats, my mind is racing faster than my car engine. So many ideas, so many things to do. I have learned so much from Coach Don Meyer over the years, and one is this little hand held recorder that I am wearing out as I head north.
Before we start on the 30 Days to a Championship in regard to what we will do at West Virginia Wesleyan, it is very important for me to let you know that part of this process had to start with the leaving of Tusculum College. At each stop, I have made as a coach, I have asked a group of young men to make extreme sacrifices and to work harder than they have ever worked in their young lives. I have demanded of them to be men, on and off the court, as well as to put the team before their individual needs. And it makes it very difficult when the time arises to tell them good-bye.
I sincerely thought Tusculum was my last stop in college coaching. I absolutely loved the community and the basketball-rich area of east Tennessee. My administration was incredibly supportive and we were extremely proud of our program. Only a job that would take me home to West Virginia where we could be near so many of our friends and family could’ve have caused me to change directions at this point in my career.
As coaches, we all know there will occasionally be times when you will need to change directions or take advantage of a special opportunity — but no matter what — make time to say thank you and good bye in the necessary fashion. A coach who doesn’t care enough to depart properly will soon have that catch up with them.
As excited as I am to be heading to Wesleyan, I need the first few days of this new beginning to be here in Tennessee, to make sure I did that I have done the right things in my departing to my future destination.
By far, the most difficult thing is to say good-bye to the players. My message to them was that it was a difficult decision — incredibly difficult. They had given me their absolute best and I believe, I had in return gave them by best as well. One of the things we always talk about in the culture of our program, is the importance of family. It is not lip service — we mean it.
Our home is always open to our players, we are actively involved in community service activities (that become great opportunities for team bonding), and I do my best to get involved with each of our young men’s families as they grow in our program - this is a very important part of our culture. But, when an amazing opportunity comes, and forces you into a position to leave, one of the hardest things to do is to say goodbye to your players, your family.
I wanted them to know that it was the draw of returning home and seeing my father more as well as my wife seeing her family that made this job appealing. It had nothing to do with them — in fact, my players at Tusculum had made the decision far difficult that I could’ve imagined.
Saying good-bye to the seniors was the most difficult.
Justin Steigerwald and Tommy Klempin. Both are starters, outstanding players who will be pre-season all conference selections for the coming year, both are great students and tremendous people, and were to be our captains for the coming year. I cannot say enough about each of them, as I have watched them grow and mature into tremendous young men and great ambassadors of Tusculum College. Kevin Vest is our third senior, he transferred from Sinclair Junior College. Kevin has made an immediate impact in our program. He was one of our best defenders (everyone knows how important that is to me), due in large part to his great competitiveness and relentless work ethic. Kevin, is from a great family as well, that have become a part of our extended family and will be missed tremendously. Talking with these three guys was really tough, very emotional, and yet all three were very understanding and supportive of our move to West Virginia Wesleyan!
Of course, I found time to say farewell and thanks to some other key people as well.
My Athletic Director at Tusculum, Frankie DeBusk, has not only been my boss, he has been a very close friend, a confidant, and a mentor. One of the best AD’s I have ever worked for, he has been so supportive of myself and our program. As well, Dom Donnelly our Media Relations Director, Deborah Davis, our Associate AD, and Randy Loggins, our Assistant AD - these are people that I have worked with on a daily basis, they have been a pleasure to work with and have made my job so much easier. Our Training Staff, a key to developing your Program’s Culture, they have been awesome, so supportive to my wants and needs. And of course, my coaching staff, Mike McBride and Gerald Oliver. Not only have they been great coaches, they have been great friends as well. I am happy that Mike plans to stay at TC as their assistant coach and provide a very smooth transition for our players, outstanding. And, I cannot say enough about Coach Oliver. Again, a tremendous friend and mentor, he has been a rock in our program and for me personally.
There are so many people at TC that made this a very difficult decision to make, even though we knew it was the right decision. We have made so many friends on campus and in the community, there are too many to name without leaving someone out. I have spent the last week just walking around the Tusculum campus to tell people how much they have meant, not only to our program, but to me and my family - they will all be dearly missed.
So now I’m rolling up the highway — excited about being a Bobcat, as I inch closer to Buckhannon — but proud of the players and the program I can see in my rearview mirror.
Tomorrow — it’s all about Bobcat Basketball!